Diary of a Young Girl = Te Rātaka a Tētahi Kōhine

June 17, 2019 by David Zwartz
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The commemoration of what would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday, had she survived Bergen-Belsen, was a double event for the Wellington Jewish community.

Holly Leighton-McPhee (left, English reader) and Hanna Turner (Dutch reader) with MC and project leader Boyd Klap and the kapa haka group from Te Kura Māori o Porirua at the Te Papa marae. Photo: Simon Woolf.

As well as planting the first 15 trees in a planned Grove of Remembrance for Anne, close to the capital’s centre, there was the launch of the first translation of her Diary of a Young Girl into the Māori language.

Over 200 guests packed into Rongomaraeroa, the Māori marae at the national museum Te Papa, for a heartwarming coming-together of the Jewish, Māori and Dutch aspects of the diary, its translation and its publication.

With the Governor-General, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, and leaders of the Māori, Jewish and Dutch communities among the guests, there was a warm response to all speakers and the musical entertainments.

HE Mira Woldberg, Netherlands ambassador to New Zealand, holds high a copy of the diary translation which she has just launched. At right, MC Boyd Klap. Photo: Simon Woolf.

Stars of the evening were the MC and the translator. Netherlands-born 92-year-old Boyd Klap, resident in New Zealand since the 1950s, was the man who had the idea of creating the translation, raised the funds to make it possible, and saw it through to fruition on the night.

Diary translator Te Haumihiata Mason with Māori reader Akauroa Mason Jacob. Photo: Sara Tansy

He was a schoolboy (and Dutch Resistance helper) at the same time that Anne Frank was in hiding in the Secret Annex in Amsterdam, and saw at first hand the brutality of the German occupation.

Te Haumihiata Mason is the country’s premier translator, having achieved Māori versions of three Shakespeare plays, as well as contributing to numerous dictionaries, reference works and other publications.

“Your honesty and the hardships you experienced guided my translation of your diary,” she said, addressing Anne Frank directly. “ You died young, but your words have lived on, and will forever continue to inspire the world.”

The audience warmed to the reading of pages from the diary, first in Dutch by a college girl of Dutch descent, followed by the same in English by a Jewish college girl. Later, a page read by Te Haumihiata in English was followed by a young Māori student reading her now-published translation in his tongue.

The Māori segment of the programme was supported by the skilful and vigorous performances of songs and haka by a contingent of students from Te Kura Māori o Porirua (the Porirua Māori School). For the Jewish segment, cello professor Inbal Megiddo played Hebrew melody by Russian-born Jewish musician Joseph Achron.

Professor Rawinia Higgins, Chairperson of the Māori Language Commission, read out a message from New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, which brought together the two crowning achievements of the new publication – its contribution to the increased study of our indigenous language (also one of the country’s official languages); and the promotion of the diary’s basic moral theme.

“Anne Frank’s diary provides a powerful message against discrimination, a message that is just as relevant now as it was when it was first written,” the Prime Minister said. “I welcome this new translation and would like to acknowledge everyone who has helped make this possible.”

MC Boyd Klap explained how he had sought and gained the sponsorship funding from four components of New Zealand society: Māori (the Māori Language Commission), Jewish (the David Levene Foundation), Dutch (Rabobank), and local government (Wellington City Council and Community Trust).

The official launch was accomplished by the Netherlands Ambassador, HE Mira Woldberg.

The book, Te Rātaka a Tētahi Kōhine, is published by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand and can be purchased through their website: www.holocaustcentre.org

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